They say hindsight is 20/20. As a UL Study Abroad alum I figured it might be nice to share some of this hindsight I rapidly accumulated during my past stay of four months last fall, and have also reflected on since being home.
This article is supported not only by my insistent reminiscing, but also the wise and slightly calmer insight of four other wonderful Americans who experienced the same semester abroad with me, and who I miss dearly- thanks, Zoë, Maren, Shivaun and Anna!
To make things easier I’ve conveniently organized these 12 Nifty Tips into three main categories- things you should Prepare ahead of time, or “prep”; things you should Buy; and things you should Know because Knowledge Is Power.
Since there’s so many wonderful tips to go around the advice is divided up into two different articles. Listed below is Part 1, and focuses exclusively on Prep. Happy planning!
1) Make a Budget
And preferably, by Week Two.
This gem is offered by Anna, who adds that attempting to make a budget the moment your plane touches down is difficult, because you don’t really have an idea of what’s considered “normal” to spend each week in your new environment. Take the time to slowly get acclimated with everything, invest in your basics (groceries! toilet paper! toothpaste!) and then put pen to paper to budget out the rest. Making a budget not only makes you feel super adultish and responsible, but is actually surprisingly helpful in alleviating some of the money stress.
2) Getting to the Dublin Airport
Looking to get some amazing European travel in on the weekends? I’d highly recommend it! Just be aware that most flights, especially the cheap ones, only fly out of Dublin airport as opposed to the local Shannon airport. Don’t let this faze you- while an occasional minor inconvenience, travel is still totally doable and worth it. You’re just going to have to plan a bit more ahead of time, as Dublin is about a two/two and half hour bus ride away from Limerick. Busses are very accessible, and actually leave straight from UL to the airport roughly every hour between a set time frame.
3) The Bus System
Getting to know your options when it comes to transportation in Ireland was one of the most popular pieces of advice offered by everyone when asked. We highly recommend acquainting yourself with Ireland’s bus system ahead of time, simply because it is the main way to get around the country (aside from the trains, which only go a certain amount of places and can get pricier!) when you don’t have access to a car. While I did download a few nifty apps that were supposedly made to tell you a bus line’s schedule, I personally rarely used them and when I did, they weren’t always entirely correct- times and locations of a stop could change at the drop of a hat. Don’t let this worry you too much though! Bus schedules are pretty easy to access at the stops and available online depending upon which service you use. You’ll also most likely be using bus lines predominantly for the purpose of getting to downtown Limerick. Before you know it, you’ll become a public transit pro.
4) Limerick Proximity
Something you should also know is that the University of Limerick is technically in a suburb of Limerick called Castletroy, rather than the actual city. As such, it’s about a twenty-minute bus ride to Limerick where the main pubs and shops are. Though I did know a few people who would occasionally walk or bike to the city center, I would not recommend doing so at night. Take the bus. Knowing how to get to Limerick (which, again, becomes super easy after your first trip there!) is one of the most useful things since all of the on-campus pubs/coffee shops/restaurants are actually closed during the weekend. Why? This leads me to my final point-
5) University Campus Culture
American college culture usually dictates that a student visits home pretty infrequently; once moved into your dorm or own cozy little apartment, going home is something that really only happens once every two to three weeks at most. This is not so in Ireland. Most of the local Irish students actually go home every weekend, even if they live on campus to begin with. While seemingly minor, this is just something that’s generally good to know as it can have affects you might not even consider until it’s Saturday morning and you really need a latte but realize the shop on campus is closed, so a downtown jaunt to Limerick it is! A quiet campus on the weekends is another reason why it’s good to get some additional traveling in other countries checked off your list.
By Carrie Burns, Study Abroad Alumni Ambassador for the University of Limerick. Read more from Carrie.
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